by Alterity Seminar Graduate Students
It’s right there in the title—Doctor of Philosophy. When you think of what it might be like to be a graduate student in musicology, exhaustive knowledge of European philosophers and their theories might not come to mind. Theory helps us understand large-scale phenomena in our world and, as graduate students in musicology, most of our world is music.
Last fall in the music department, a group of UNC musicology students gathered around the virtual table for Dr. Annegret Fauser’s seminar, Alterity in Western Classical Music. This seminar investigated philosophical understanding of alterity, the relationship of the self and the Other, and how it manifests in Western classical music. Because it is 2021 and we value all forms of wisdom and styles of learning, we made a syllabus, a podcast, and an ezine about it.
To wonder how alterity might sound, we thought about classical music that includes folksong like Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 or Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals. Dvořák composed his popular symphony in the spirit of “sounding American” like he did in pieces about his native Czech Republic. So did William Grant Still in his Symphony No. 1 “Afro-American.” Why do we know about Dvorak and not Still? Grappling with texts from Homi Bhabha, Emmanuel Levinas, Simone de Beauvoir and more, we found more questions than answers about how one can meet the other with respect and know them like oneself. (Perhaps, quarantine was wearing on and we were bored with ourselves.)
We invite you to join us in asking these questions through our three products. The syllabus and podcast follow three module arcs packed with interviews and interactive content to bring alterity into your classroom or living room. The ezine is a twenty-nine page explosion of illustrated philosophers and high school art magazine style cemetery photography. There’s something for everybody and we’ve got a seat at the table waiting for you.